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Material efficiency management in manufacturing


Publication Type:

Licentiate Thesis


An improved material efficiency contributes to reducing the total environmental impact of global manufacturing by helping achieve reductions in the volume of generated industrial waste, the extraction and consumption of resources, energy demand and carbon emissions. However, the subject of material efficiency in manufacturing has been under-researched, and related knowledge is limited. The research objective of this thesis is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge regarding material efficiency in manufacturing to increase understanding, describe the existing situation and develop support for improvement. This thesis focuses on the value of process and residual materials in material efficiency, with a particular concentration on enhancing the homogeneity of generated waste by increasing segregation rates, decreasing the generation of waste material and reducing total virgin raw material consumption without influencing the function or quality of a product or process. To achieve this objective, this research investigates material efficiency strategies, the existing state of material efficiency in manufacturing and barriers to further improvements in material efficiency. The results are supported by four structured literature reviews and by multiple empirical case studies that were conducted at large Swedish global manufacturing companies, most of which operate in the automotive industry. These empirical studies entailed observations, interviews, waste stream mapping, waste sorting analyses, environmental report reviews and company walkthroughs to investigate material efficiency and industrial waste management systems. The empirical results reveal that the material efficiency improvement potential of further waste segregation to gain economic and environmental benefits remains high. The determination of various waste segments and their relative fractions, along with the calculation of material efficiency performance measures, will facilitate improvements in material efficiency. In addition to attempts at reducing waste generation, avoiding blending and correctly segregating various waste fractions is an essential step towards material efficiency. Improving the value of waste fractions, i.e., creating more specific cost-effective fractions, is also vital. Multiple barriers that hinder material efficiency were identified. The most influential barriers to improved material efficiency concern the areas of Budgetary, Information, Management and Employees. The majority of identified material efficiency barriers are internal, originate within the company itself and are dependent upon the manufacturing company’s characteristics.


author = {Sasha Shahbazi},
title = {Material efficiency management in manufacturing},
month = {September},
year = {2015},
url = {}